A Short History of South-East Asia by Peter Church

5196D+G2XZL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Nonfiction — print. Wiley, John & Sons, 2009. 5th edition. 210 pgs. Library copy.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, South-East Asia was skipped in my geography class, and I never felt like the textbook for that class did a good enough job explaining the culture and history of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore, and Myanmar (Burma). Although I knew I wanted to learn more about this region, I wasn’t actively searching for a introductory book, but when I saw A Short History of South-East Asia on the new nonfiction bookshelf at my library I decided to go ahead and start my “travels” with this book.

Written specifically for Australian businessmen and women (no idea how it wound up in a public library in Montana), the book provides an accessible and intelligent overview of South-East Asia that would work for both someone who knows nothing and someone who needs to fill in the gaps. Because it’s written with Australians in mind, there is quite a bit of talk about how each of these countries relate to Australia and its economic interests. With a chapter on each of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the book explains early history through colonialism to the economic, political, and social outlook of each country at the end of 2009. I found the timeline at the beginning of each chapter to be an interesting visual feature.


  1. It is weird that the book ended up in a library in Montana! It sounds like a good introduction. I’m trying to stay away from non-fiction as much as possible in the upcoming 2 months, but if I ever need a guide to this region, this sounds like a good place to start.


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